Daughters of Chaos: A Novel (Hardcover)

Daughters of Chaos: A Novel By Jen Fawkes Cover Image
Available from our distributor; usually Ships in 1-5 Days


An epic novel about Civil War–era Nashville’s “public women,” an age-old secret society, and the earth-shaking power of the female

“A beautiful spinning knife of a story that whirls back through the 1800s, the 1500s, the 4th century BC, and the age of myth to slice out an image of the pain and the power that women have inherited from antiquity.” ––Kevin Brockmeier, O. Henry Prize-winning author of The Ghost Variations

In 1862, after a tragedy at home, twenty-two-year-old Sylvie Swift parts ways with her twin brother to trace the origins of an enigmatic playscript that’s landed on their doorstep. This text leads her to Nashville, an occupied city bustling with soldiers, saboteurs, partisans, powerful men––and powerful women. Sylvie trans lates the playscript by day, but at night, drawn into the work by the chief of the Union Army’s Secret Service, she acts as a spy.

Both endeavors acquaint her with a sisterhood whose members—including Hannah, a fiery revolutionary to whom Sylvie is increasingly drawn—possess potentially monstrous powers. Sylvie soon becomes entangled in the Cult of Chaos, a feminist society steadfast in its ancient mission to eradicate the violence of men.

Inspired by Aristophanes’ Lysistrata and the true story of Nashville’s attempt to exile its prostitutes during the American Civil War, Daughters of Chaos weaves together “found” texts, fabulism, and queer themes to question familiar notions of history and family, warfare and power.

About the Author

Jen Fawkes is the author of Mannequin and Wife, a 2020 Shirley Jackson Award Nominee, winner of the 2023 Phillip H. McMath Post-Publication Book Award, and a Foreword INDIES gold medalist. Her collection Tales the Devil Told Me was a Foreword INDIES silver medalist, a Largehearted Boy Favorite Collection of 2021, and a finalist for the 2022 World Fantasy Award for Single-Author Story Collection. Her fiction won the 2021 Porter Fund Literary Prize and has appeared in One StoryLit HubThe Iowa Review, Best Small Fictions, and more. A two-time finalist for the Calvino Prize for fabulist fiction, Jen lives in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Praise For…

"Jen Fawkes possesses one of the brightest new narrative voices of the last few years. In 2020 and 2021, her strange and shimmering story collections burst into print in immediate succession, one and then two, like a perfectly calibrated fireworks display. Now comes her first novel, which might be the most dazzling book she's written yet. It's a beautiful spinning knife of a story that whirls back through the 1800s, the 1500s, the 4th century BC, and the age of myth to slice out an image of the pain and the power that women have inherited from antiquity—historical fiction of a sort, but informed by both our own moment and the Old Attic Comedies."
— Kevin Brockmeier, author of The Ghost Variations

Daughters of Chaos is a deeply feminist story that weaves together Greek mythology, Civil War history, sisterhood, fire, sex, and love. Fawkes creates a delicious tapestry as she layers found text, journal entries and letters, narrative and playwriting, resulting in a lush and immersive novel. From Ephesus to Nashville and beyond, Fawkes’s wide perspective allows her to shine light on women lost to time while embracing surprising parallels that will delight any fan of the classics. Her dramatis personae sing long after you’ve closed the book.” 
— Elizabeth Gonzalez James, author of Mona at Sea and The Bullet Swallower

Daughters of Chaos lives up to its name! Celebrating the messiness of women’s lives and struggles against the backdrop of the Civil War, Daughters of Chaos delivers a world that feels both real and surreal, a history that is itself steeped in our primordial stories about who we can and cannot be and who we can and cannot love.” 
— Gwen E. Kirby, author of Shit Cassandra Saw

“In her elemental inventiveness, Jen Fawkes is descended from the Angela Carter of Wise Childrenand The Bloody Chamber but is also up to something exhilaratingly new. Daughters of Chaos is joyful and bold, populated so richly with twins and prostitutes and mythical creatures and historical figures that in the great thrill of watching its tapestry unfurl, the enormity and seriousness of the questions Fawkes is asking snuck up on me. This novel is interested in nothing less than the forces of chaos and order and the question of where lies threat and where salvation. Ambitious, vast, expertly crafted—an extraordinary achievement.”  
— Clare Beams, author of The Illness Lesson

“Jen Fawkes has written a wild adventure. Rooted in historical events, this is a genre-shattering book that is both intellectual and a ripping page-turner. Surprisingly and blessedly strange!”
— Megan Giddings, author of The Women Could Fly

“Jen Fawkes’s writing—and her characters—are ferociously, radiantly compelling in Daughters of Chaos. Like the best historical fiction, this speaks to the reader and the times in which she lives.”
— Kelly Link, author of The Book of Love

“A dazzling synthesis of history, myth, and sheer invention. Fawkes is a bold, wild, funny writer, unafraid of taking risks. I’m eager to see what she does next.”
— Charles Yu, National Book Award–winning author of Interior Chinatown

“Playful in structure, mythical in scope, Daughters of Chaos is queer, weird, and so goddamn wise. With this masterpiece of modern feminism (set in a war-torn nineteenth-century America), Jen Fawkes joins the ranks of Delia Sherman, Elizabeth Hand, and Margaret Atwood.”
— C. S. E. Cooney, author of Saint Death’s Daughter

Daughters of Chaos is a roaring tale told by a masterful storyteller, guaranteed to surprise you again and again. Its inventive, shapeshifting form lets Jen Fawkes play hard in the most serious way, as all the best storytellers do; through her novel's many delights, Fawkes delivers everything I want innovative historical fiction to be.”
— Matt Bell, author of Appleseed

Product Details
ISBN: 9781419772474
ISBN-10: 1419772473
Publisher: The Overlook Press
Publication Date: July 9th, 2024
Pages: 288
Language: English